Tonight in Healdsburg, Calif., is the first of this year's two Wine Spectator Bring Your Own Magnum parties. This evening's is at chef Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen; tomorrow's will be in Napa, at Tra Vigne.
These are company parties, a come-together of advertisers, winemakers, chefs, retailers, distributors and the like—a social mixer where a lot of people who never see each other all year mingle.
It's raining now as I write, which could mean a lot of things:
A wet, slippery dance floor at Dry Creek Kitchen tonight …
Awkwardly juggling a wineglass, a food plate and an umbrella …
Winter clothes …
A potentially horrible bad-hair day …
… And a lot of grumbling from winemakers and grapegrowers.
Gentlemen vintners are especially prone to four-letter words when it rains this time of year. Usually early June weather is a mix between a furnace and a tanning bed. Rain at this time of year can be baffling for those who haven't been at the wine business long, but old-time growers have seen it before (and they tend to grouse about the weather irrespective of rain or shine).
So what does rain in late May and early June actually mean for the vintage?
Not much, except that it makes grapevines happy, since they can keep on drinking and growing. It points to a farmer's year, where corralling the vines is the key to a fall harvest success, which in turn likely means it will also be a winemaker's year, where grape selection will be more a factor than normal. Maybe.
And maybe the rain will stop tonight, and the threat of thundershowers tonight and tomorrow will pass, too, with this being just another friendly reminder from Mother Nature of who really is in charge.
Paul Frank — Napa Valley, CA — May 31, 2011 1:57pm ET
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — June 2, 2011 6:54pm ET
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